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Both the image of the constellation and the Southern Cross itself are powerful symbols in cultures in the southern hemisphere and the four primary stars have been used in flags and tattoos as a cultural symbol for centuries.
In Ethiopia, for example, members of the Coptic faith often celebrate their faith through the adoption of a tattoo of the Ethiopian cross on their foreheads or elsewhere on their bodies.
Maltese cross designs seems of have first appeared during the 11th century when it was adopted as the official symbol of the Knights Hospitalier, an organization of Christian warriors that fought for both the conquest and the defense of Jerusalem.
Of course, the most popular cross tattoo designs seen today are used as permanent symbols of faith in the Christian religion.
The types of cross body art pictures that Christians have to choose from can vary from a modest cross of two simple, bold lines to extraordinarily ornate crosses that are works of art unto themselves.
The Christian Cross
Christians in denominations all over world choose to get tattoos of the Christian cross for all sorts of reasons, from an expression of religious faith to local and ethnic customs.
The Iron Cross Tattoo
Another particularly recognizable cross tattoo design is that of the Iron Cross. Although tattoos featuring the Iron Cross are becoming a little less common today, they were once a very popular symbol that had been adopted by the motorcycling subculture throughout the United States.
Today, the Maltese cross is a popular symbol amongst American fire fighters, where the symbol is incorporated into fire department insignias under the name the Saint Florian Cross.
It is a very popular body art design amongst fire fighters, police officers and soldiers, as well as anyone who is looking for a tattoo that has stood as a symbol of courage for centuries.
In the West, the Southern Cross is more commonly used as a tattoo design to represent personal liberty and individuality.
The Ethiopian cross, also known as the Coptic cross, evolved from the ancient Egyptian ankh and is comprised of two intersecting lines of equal length with three points at the end of each angle.
Historically, the Iron Cross has been primarily associated with military organizations, particularly that of Germany. Following the end of World War II, the Iron Cross first began appearing in the pop culture though American counter-culturalists who wore Iron Cross medals that their fathers had plundered from German soldiers during the war.
Soon, the tattoo of an iron cross became a symbol of rebellion itself, and the symbol lives on today as an emblem of cold masculinity that often employed by skinheads, sports fighters and rock musicians.
The Maltese Cross
Although the Maltese cross bears a close resemblance to the Iron Cross, the Maltese cross has much deeper roots in history.
The cross tattoo includes eight points, each of which are said to represent one of the eight points of courage, including honor, bravery, piety, generosity, loyalty, charity, respect for the church and contempt for death.
The Southern Cross
The Southern Cross provides a tattoo enthusiast with an interesting symbol of the cross that is a little outside of the ordinary.
The Southern Cross, often referred to simply as Crux, is a constellation appearing in the southern hemisphere that was important to early navigation due to the fact that it is visible any time of the year.